I’m in England for a few days, enjoying the drizzle and the best that UKTV has to offer. Bit of a glut last night, as I moved from Emmerdale to a programme about a house so dirty the most hygienic niche was to be found inside the cage of a rat. This was followed by Embarrassing Illnesses (slightly disappointing after the exhilarating haemorrhoids of the first episode – a penile spot, heavy periods, cystitis: embarrassing seems to equate with weary regularity to the genital area, although there was an epic case of athlete’s foot and an armpit boil so deep it swallowed half a q-tip). Thirty minutes of Big Brother, yawn, followed by half an hour of one of those holiday from hell things. By this point, I’m working through the six sudokus offered by my mother’s paper and waiting for a promising documentary about the God Hates Fags gang from Topeka. (You know, the ones who picket the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, with placards saying they deserved to die, surrounded by shocked but fawning cameras jostling for a shot.)
These people (essentially an extended family and six imported loonies) have the terrible logic of most convinced interpreters of revealed truth, which is as near madness as matters. They’re obsessed by rimming, though they prefer to call it ‘eating faeces’. Fags (sic) eat faeces and there are fags in the army. American soldiers are dying in Iraq. Ergo America is doomed. It isn’t logical, but logic isn’t the issue here. They have placards that run the whole gamut of fag-hating delirium, attacking everyone from Lily Tomlin to Elton John: their preferred victims are media figures (as they are), though they’re not averse to picketing a local hairdresser, who stubbornly refuses to repent. I’d rather be Elton than him, despite a local radio person assuring Keith Allen – whose documentary this is – that no one pays them much mind.
Hmm. The problem is that Keith Allen can’t argue and these people can. It’s rather like watching a fifth former trying to hoist the petard of his history master. It isn’t a question of who’s right, but of who’s competent, and seeing Allen repeating ‘fool’ like a mantra to someone who deserves a thorough trouncing at a slightly higher level (i.e. of argument) is simply depressing. The best thing, clearly, is to ignore these people, whose nuisance value far outweighs their significance. If we can’t do that, at least let’s send an interlocutor who can wipe the floor with their medieval nonsense. In other words – Christopher Hitchens, where are you when we need you?